Preview: Alberta Earns No.1 Seed ahead of National Tournament

National University Sports

image: depositphotos.com
image: depositphotos.com

CHARLOTTETOWN – SPORTS – The Alberta Pandas have been named women’s hockey tournament favourites in the lead-up to an action-packed weekend of #CHAMPSZN.

Men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s curling will each crown their 2019 U SPORTS national champions this weekend across the country. For the full championship schedule, click here.

The 2019 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship, hosted by the UPEI Panthers in Charlottetown kicks off on Thursday at MacLauchlan Arena and concludes next Sunday with the gold-medal final at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT. All games live-streamed at USPORTS.LIVE

No. 1 Alberta Pandas

  • Playoff Finish: Canada West champions
  • Regular Season/playoff records: 23-5-0 / 4-0
  • Last U SPORTS Championship: 2017
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 8
  • Team offence: 2.57 goals/game, 10th
  • Team defence: 0.84 goals against/game, 1st

Team leaders

  • Points: Alex Poznikoff, 37
  • Goals: Alex Poznikoff, 15
  • Assists: Alex Poznikoff, 22
  • Probable starting goaltender (record): Kirsten Chamberlin (11-0-0, 0.57 GAA, .963 SV%)

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After finishing one of the most dominant seasons in Canada West history, the Alberta Pandas head to PEI looking for a record ninth U SPORTS Championship.

The Pandas finished the regular season with 23 wins, tied for the most in conference history. They also set records for most shutouts, with 13, and the lowest goals against average at 0.84. The Pandas also completed a perfect playoff run, going 4-0 to claim their first conference title since 2015, and record 13th overall.

Leading the Pandas was fourth-year forward and conference Player of the Year Alex Poznikoff. Her 37 points were the most in Canada West and U SPORTS, and a career-high for the Panda winger.

Defensively, the Pandas successfully rotated three goalies all season, with third-year Kirsten Chamberlin leading the conference with an 11-0-0 record and six shutouts.

No. 2 Montreal Carabins

  • Playoff finish: RSEQ champions
  • Regular season / playoff records: 15-4-1 / 4-0-0
  • Last U SPORTS championship: 2016
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 2
  • Team offence: 3.00 goals/game, 3rd
  • Team defence: 1.66 goals against/game, 12th

Team Leaders  

  • Points: Jessica Cormier & Annie Germain, 23
  • Goals: Jessica Cormier, 11
  • Assists: Annie Germain, 14
  • Probable starting goaltender: Aube Racine (13-3-0, 1.68 GAA, 929 SV%)

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The Carabins had a fantastic year, clinching their third regular-season title in the program’s history. Sniper Jessica Cormier once again made a significant contribution to the team’s success. Her 11-goal season placed her at the top of the RSEQ scoring race, and for the second year in a row, the administration student (HEC Montréal) was named RSEQ MVP. With the absence of goalkeeper Maude Trevisan, rookie Aube Racine also got a chance to shine. In 16 games, she posted a record of 13-3, with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. The Carabins will look to capture their third national championship title in program history.

No. 3 Guelph Gryphons

  • Playoff Finish: OUA champions
  • Regular Season/playoff records: 18-3-3 / 5-0
  • Last U SPORTS Championship: Never
  • Team offence: 3.29 goals/game, 1st
  • Team defence: 1.37 goals against/game, 3rd

Team leaders

  • Points: Kailtin Lowy, 25
  • Goals: Kailtin Lowy, 13
  • Assists: Claire Merrick, 15
  • Probable starting goaltender (record): Valerie Lamenta (10-2-3, 1.24 GAA, .952 SV%)

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For the fourth time in the last six seasons, the Guelph Gryphons women’s hockey team finished atop the OUA standings, posting a record of 18-3-3. The Gryphons led the OUA in both goals scored (79) as well as allowed the fewest goals against (34). The Gryphons were especially impressive away from home this season, posting an 11-0-1 record, with their lone loss coming in overtime at Western on Feb. 2.

No. 4 St. Thomas Tommies

  • Playoff Finish: AUS champions
  • Regular Season/playoff records: 22-5-1 / 4-1
  • Last U SPORTS Championship: Never
  • Team offence: 2.96 goals/game, 4th
  • Team defence: 1.58 goals against/game, 9th

Team leaders

  • Points: Emily Oleksuk, 34
  • Goals: Lauren Henman, 18
  • Assists: Emily Oleksuk, 23
  • Probable starting goaltender: Abby Clarke (17-5-1, 1.50 GAA, .943 SV%)

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For the first time in the history of the program, the St. Thomas Tommies won the AUS title. The 2018-19 season was highlighted by a 120game winning streak in the heart of the season. The Tommies were led offensively by their top line of Lauren Henman, Emily Oleksuk and Olivia Reid who combined for 39 goals and 88 points in 28 games. Goaltender Abby Clarke was sublime between the pipes for STU, finishing in the top two in the AUS in GAA, save percentage and wins.

No. 5 McGill Martlets

  • Playoff Finish: RSEQ finalists
  • Regular Season/playoff records: 14-6-0 / 2-2
  • Last U SPORTS Championship: 2014
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 4
  • Team offence: 2.50 goals per game, 11th
  • Team defence: 1.44 goals against/game (6th)

Team leaders

  • Points: Jade Downie-Landry, 23
  • Goals: Kellyane Lecours, 10
  • Assists: Jade Downie-Landry, 18
  • Probable starting goaltender: Tricia Deguire (13-6-0, 1.46 GAA, .949 SV%)

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No. 6 Manitoba Bisons

  • Playoff Finish: Canada West finalists
  • Regular Season/playoff records: 20-5-3 / 2-2
  • Last U SPORTS Championship: 2018
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 1
  • Team offence: 2.79 goals/game, 7th
  • Team defence: 1.49 goals against per game, 7th

Team leaders

  • Points: Lauryn Keen, 26
  • Goals: Lauryn Keen, 13
  • Assists: Lauryn Keen, 13
  • Probable starting goaltender: Lauren Taraschuk (17-4-2, 1.54 MOY, .934 %Arr)

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No. 7 UPEI Panthers

  • Playoff Finish: AUS quarterfinalists / hosts
  • Regular Season / playoff records: 14-13-1 / 0-2
  • Last U SPORTS Championship: Never
  • Team offence: 1.96 goals/game, 22nd
  • Team defence: 1.84 goals against/game (14th)

Team leaders

  • Points: Rachel Colle, 20
  • Goals: Rachel Colle, 10
  • Assists: Rachel Colle, 10
  • Probable starting goaltender : Camille Scherger (14-13-1, 1.84 GAA, .932 SV%)

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No. 8 Toronto Varsity Blues

  • Playoff Finish: OUA finalists
  • Regular Season/playoff records: 15-6-3 / 4-3
  • Last U SPORTS Championship: 2001
  • Total U SPORTS championships: 1
  • Team offence: 2.71 goals per game, 8th
  • Team defence: 1.90 goals against/game, 16th

Team leaders

  • Points: Lauren Straatman, 23
  • Goals: Kassie Roache, 14
  • Assists: Lauren Straatman, 15
  • Probable starting goaltender: Erica Fryer (11-5-1, 1.49 GAA, .925 SV%)

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The University of Toronto Varsity Blues booked their ticket to their first OUA McCaw Cup Final since 2007-08 as they upset the No. 2 seeded Western Mustangs in a best-of-three semifinal series. With the win, the Blues punched their ticket to their first U SPORTS championship since hosting in 2012-13.

Fifth-year forwards Lauren Straatman and Kassie Roache have led the Blues offensively this season. Straatman, who returns to the team this week after representing Canada at the 2019 FISU Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, led the team with 15 assists and 23 points through the regular season, while Roache scored a team-high 14 goals during the campaign.

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

Wednesday, Mar. 13

  • All-Canadian Awards Gala, 5:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT

Friday, Mar. 14 (Quarterfinals)

  • Guelph vs. Manitoba, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
  • Montreal vs. UPEI, 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m.PT

Saturday Mar. 15 (Quarterfinals)

  • Alberta vs. Toronto, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
  • St Thomas vs. McGill, 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT

Full championship schedule available here.